US: Louisiana shelves plans to cut Medicaid hospice programme

Categories: Care.

Health and Hospitals Secretary, Bruce Greenstein, announced the reversal earlier this week, adding that hospice care could be funded using federal grant money. 

The Louisiana-Mississippi Hospice and Palliative Care Organisation, as well as local hospices, played a vital role in fighting for the decision to be revoked. 

A report in the Miami Herald quotes grief counsellor and nurse, Sue de Rada, saying: “End of life care is just so vital for everybody. It’s sacred. It’s one of the most sacred times in people’s life next to being born. Why would we abandon people at such a critical time?”

More than 5,800 people received hospice services through Louisiana’s Medicaid programme in the last budget year, according to the state health department.

The cut would have meant that low-income Louisianans with terminal illnesses, debilitating disabilities, and chronic long-term medical problems would no longer have had access to the essential home and medical care they need. It would also have made Louisiana one of only two states not paying for hospice care through its Medicaid programme. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Oklahoma is the only state that doesn’t offer hospice care to adults through Medicaid.

Meanwhile, a 50-state survey released on 23 January 2013 by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed wide gaps in the current Medicaid programme, which is expected to spend more than US$490 billion this year.

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